A rainbow blessing for Thomas, my graduating grandson

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, June 8, 2011

Late afternoon on June 3, this rainbow appeared above Big Hill, as seen from outside Cochrane Movie House. It embraced the homes in the Headlands and GlenEagles, inspiring peace, hope and joy with its radiance and providing a special blessing for this year’s class of high school graduates. Photo by Warren Harbeck
Click for a larger version.

This week my grandson will step up to the microphone and deliver the valedictory address at his Calgary high school graduation. Thus, like so many young people across the land at this time of year, he will make that momentous passage from youth to adulthood, university and the life beyond. As I did for his sister two years ago (see my column of June 3, 2009), so now with this open letter I extend a blessing to the most amazing grandson a grandpa could ever have.

My wonderful Thomas,

The other afternoon, Grandma and I witnessed a breathtaking rainbow low in the sky above Cochrane’s Big Hill. Its outstretched arc, like eagle’s wings, embraced the homes of the Headlands and GlenEagles and evoked feelings of peace and security.

The rainbow, I think, was a special graduation gift for you, for it whispered a blessing for me to deliver to you as you journey into the first day of the rest of your life. That blessing is all about hope, light and joy.

About hope, the rainbow is a reminder that the storms of life aren’t forever. As American author Maya Angelou says, “God puts rainbows in the clouds so that each of us – in the dreariest and most dreaded moments – can see a possibility of hope.”

About light, yes, by all means, here is the blessing of vibrant hues radiant against a dark sky – just as you can be, too, an agent of illumination for others.

And joy? The rainbow is God’s brushstroke of joy across the canvas of the sky! I mean, really, have you ever been sad to see a rainbow?

Of course, to live out the blessing of hope, light and joy, you require wisdom, imagination and courage.

Wisdom, as you know, is knowledge grounded in godliness – life rooted in “the fear of the Lord.”

Imagination takes flight where knowledge leaves off. As Albert Einstein once said, “Knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

To these you must add courage. Here you will find no better example than that of George Sosnowski, your maternal grandfather. Torn from his beloved Poland by the Second World War, he built a hope-filled new life in Canada for his family, including you, Thomas.

In putting these into practice, you will come to understand something British poet Lord Byron said over two centuries ago:  “Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.”

This really isn’t too different from the second verse of one of your favourite hymns. I’ll conclude this blessing with my paraphrase of Sebastian Temple’s “Prayer of St. Francis.” Like the rainbow,

May you be a channel of God’s peace.
Where there’s despair in life, may you bring hope.
Where there is darkness, only light,
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

Love, Grandpa

© 2011 Warren Harbeck

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